Seven Springs Leases Laurel Mountain
October 15, 2004
In the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today it was announced that Seven Springs has agreed to operate Laurel Mountain this year. The Article state that a joint pass is in consideration for the two areas and the mountain should be open by mid December here is a link to the article http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04286/394311.stm
Man, you were up late last night. Thanks for the great news. Laurel couldn't be in better hands, looks like we'll get a shot at it this season.
Great news... at least for this year.
Again, I wonder why 7 Springs would do this considering LM has never been a money maker. My guess is pressure from the state. My understanding is 7 Springs is completely wired for gambling, just itching to get a highly coveted gaming license.
Whatever the reason, it's wonderful that a beautiful ski area is open again.
I think the pairing of Seven Springs and Laurel Mountain makes a lot of sense. It is true that Laurel Mountain never has made a profit but they did break even in their last season. This was done with very little advertising of the resort. I think if Seven Springs uses their advertising budget to promote both resorts Laurel could be very profitable. Both resorts complement each other very well. Seven Springs has the nice resort setting where everything is within one building. While Laurel Mountain offers the skiing terrain that Seven Springs lacks. If a joint season pass is offered this might attract people who would otherwise ski at other resorts for the more challenging terrain.
I wonder if there will be any improvements made at Laurel this year. What they need to do most is upgrade the snowmaking. Just adding snowmaking to Dream Highway would be a major upgrade to the area. For those who don't know Dream Highway is the only main way down the mountain that doesn't have snow making. This is a narrow winding trail that is reminiscent of Stembogen at Blue Knob. I would also like to see the slopes under both chairs to open up. The slope under the quad was really clear and could of been skied but was rarely opened due to lack of snowmaking. the pitch looks like it would be a hard green to easy blue. The slope under the double would need a bit of work to open it. More towers would have to be added to the chair to keep it off the ground. In some places that chair gets within a few feet of the ground. If this trail were made it would be a nice narrow black that goes against the fall line just like High Hopes and Route 66 does at Blue Knob. More importantly it would provide the area with another way down the mountain which is severely lacking at this point.
I have also heard that Seven Springs is going after a resort slot license. For those that don't know what this mean in PA I think there are two resort slot license available that allow a area to put in up to 500 slot machines. Only people staying at that resort are allowed to play the slots by this law. From what I understand either Seven Springs or Nemacolin Woodlands are going to get one of these licenses. I would like to see Seven Springs get this. Imagine what the extra revenue will do when reinvested into the mountain.
I've never been to Seven Springs but I wonder if they're trying to do something similar to what Snowshoe did with Silver Creek. If you put the two on the same lift ticket, not just the same season pass, the overflow business from Seven Springs would probably be enough to make Laurel profitable. Are they close enough for an arrangement like this?
Seven Springs has agreed to operate Laurel Mountain this year.
That's really great news, and probably enough to get me and my wife up there for a weekend. Can anyone recommend any B&B's in the area?
Article says they are 15 miles apart by air, 30 by road. Probably too far to hit on same day unless highly motivated, not too far to hit on same weekend. Is there room to expand the trail count at Laurel Mtn if 7Sprgs threw some bucks at it?
Believe me, I'm not complaining that 7 Springs is operating LM this year. I really truly hope they make a real go of it and invest some money back into LM, and just as you said, putting snowmaking on the excellent trails would be a great start. I truly hope this is a long term arrangement, with 7 Springs eventually developing the surrounding Laurel Mountain Village. Let's keep our fingers crossed!!!!
I think there have always been plans to add more trails at Laurel in the future. I have heard rumors that they could make trails even steeper then Lower Wildcat with that mountain. If you look at their aerial photo you can see that they have not utilized much of the existing mountain they can build trails between the two main ones and also to the skier's right of lower wildcat. Below I put a link to their aerial photo. laurel mountain
Thanks for the linked photo. I was studying some of the terrain during lunch time; with good snow cover it looks like there is some very nice terrain possibilities at Laurel Mountain. The cartoon map they had on their old web site doesn't do the mountain justice. There are plenty of lightly treed areas throughout the mountain. Hmmmmmm. Looks like most of the trails, even the blues, are relatively narrow. Just like the areas in New England used to be.
Is there snowmaking on Bobcat, Broadway and Innsbruck? IIRC, there were several trails at Laurel besides Dream Highway which did not have snowmaking.
Let us know about the 2 PM press conference.
From what I remember the trails at laurel with out snow making are Dream Highway, Bobcat, Laurel Run, Hagen's Cut, Timber top, and The Slot. I'm not sure but I think the lower third of Innsbruck didn't have snowmaking. I also think that Snow Bowl doesn't have snowmaking but they maybe able to stretch the hoses over from Ski top to cover the trail.
Copy of an article from Johnstown PA newspaper
LIGONIER - Seven Springs, already the state's largest ski resort, may soon get even bigger.
Administrators confirmed that the Somerset County resort is in negotiations to operate Laurel Mountain Ski Resort this winter, a move that could pull the Ligonier Township recreational area out of a prolonged financial tailspin.
But contrary to published reports, leaders at Seven Springs and Somerset Trust Co., which now owns Laurel Mountain's resort operations, said yesterday that they have not settled on a contract.
"There's been no signed agreement," Seven Springs spokesman Bob Duppstadt said in a telephone interview. "Nothing has been approved at this point."
Nonetheless, officials tentatively have scheduled a press conference for later this week. At that point, they would spell out the details of a marriage between Western Pennsylvania's most successful resort and one of its most troubled ski areas.
"I believe it is in the best interest of Somerset County and the surrounding area to have Laurel Mountain open this year," Jeff Cook, Somerset Trust executive vice president, said in a telephone interview.
That seemed like an unattainable goal just a few months ago. Laurel Mountain Ski Resort sits on state park land, which means any operator must sign a lease agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
In May, the department terminated its lease with Pittsburgh businessman George Mowl, who had operated Laurel Mountain since 1998.
Mowl had suffered through years of tepid winters, declining attendance and mounting debt. His repeated attempts to sell the resort fell through, and Laurel Mountain did not open for skiers last winter.
By August, Somerset Trust had foreclosed on a $1 million loan taken out by Mowl and his partnership. But an auction last month found no buyers willing to operate the resort.
Now, it appears that Seven Springs has stepped to the plate.
That may increase competition for a smaller resort such as Hidden Valley, which sits just north of Seven Springs in Somerset County.
A Hidden Valley spokesman declined comment yesterday.
But some observers say Seven Springs may have the financial resources and business experience to do what a string of failed concessionaires could not: Stabilize Laurel Mountain.
"Seven Springs would be a super partner," Terry Brady, a state DCNR spokesman, said in a telephone interview from his Harrisburg office. "They know how to make winter sports work."
Seven Springs often opens earlier and closes later in the ski season than any other area resort. And in the sometimes-fickle ski industry, its numbers are consistently strong.
Last winter saw more than 450,000 skier visits at Seven Springs, Duppstadt said. And the year before was even better, with nearly 500,000 visits.
"I think this is great news," Hank Parke, Somerset County Chamber of Commerce director, said in a telephone interview.
"They have the money and the expertise to put behind (Laurel Mountain)," Parke said. "And I think the finances are what's been missing over the years."
State officials have insisted that Laurel Mountain has the resources to become a strong contender in the ski business.
"That's a very viable operation there," Brady said.
Just to fill in some of the blanks on the terrain. I skied Laurel all 3 years they have operated recently and also back in the late 70's and early 80's (when they had sufficient snow to operate). There are essentially only 4 ways down right now...
Innsbruck - The winding, gently pitched beginer run that is actually quite nice when it has snow. There are hydrants here and HKD towers at the top and it was usually groomed nicely. Beginers could take the new fixed grip Quad up at the bottom of Innsbruck or continue on Deer Path (A straight narrow runout to the older Double chair) From the top of the double, you could take an unmarked trail between the lodge and parking lot back to the top of Innsbruck, which was quite a long run all totaled. In 2002-03, they cleared a short section under the quad near the top and named it Lincoln Highway (not on the map) which intersected Innsbruck about halfway down.
Broadway - This is a wonderful cruiser that starts fairly wide at the top with several rolling pitches. After an awkward narrow turn to the left, the trail has a nice continuous pitch through the woods. At the bottom you can catch the quad or continue on Deer Path to the double. Broadway is covered 100% by HKD towers and was always wonderfully groomed.
Wildcat - Ski Top is basically a narrow road that takes you from the double to the top of Wildcat/Laurel Run (bascically the same pitch seperated by a stand of trees) Ski Top and Wildcat are covered 100% by HKD towers. Upper Wildcat/Laurel Run are fairly short intermediate pitches that lead to the steep part of the mountain. There is a very flat trail (Last Chance) that takes you over to the midpoint of Broadway if you do not want to ski Lower Wildcat. Lower Wildcat, the signature slope here, starts narrow and then widens out at the bottom. The pitch is continuous and feels about as steep as the mid headwall at 7 Spring's North Face, only longer. It is best to hit this in the morning as it gets icy after a few hours. You also find the best snow on the downhill left as this is where the HKD towers are. The right side is usually roped off due to thin cover, debris and rocks that litter the chair cut. This can be a great run during mid-week after a big snow when it is not crowded. (Laurel did not operate Tue/Wed/Thur in 02-03) I remember a day in the late 70's where I skied Wildcat all day during a heavy storm mid-week. There were only about 10 people there that day and we always had fresh powder after the slow ride up. You can also see the remnants of the T-bar that preceeded the double chair in the woods next to Wildcat.
Dream Highway - No snowmaking and very rough and narrow but it has potential. In all the years I skied Laurel, I first skied it the last year they operated (02-03) when we had sufficient natural snow. It is a bit like Stembogen at BK and was kind of a retro experience as it was un-groomed, with lots of rocks and grass.
There are plenty of areas where tree skiing would be possible but there is just too much debris right now.
Ok here is the link from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about the press conference the other day. Some interesting things I noticed. I sounds like it will be open c Thursday thru Monday, and season pass holders can ski Seven Springs on Tues and Weds. Also it says that they are working on a way for pass holders at Seven Springs to use the area. The website listed above doesn't appear to have much info on it but it does list the season pass rates for the upcoming season. To see the daily rates refer to the article I posted http://www.pittsburghpostgazette.com/pg/04289/396145.stm
$34 weekend, $25 weekdays. Nice price!